1 in 6 elders abused in past year, according to WHO

(Stevepb / Public Domain)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Thursday marked the eleventh observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new data to bring to light the realities of elder abuse. A 2017 study based on the best available evidence from 52 studies in 28 countries from diverse regions, including 12 low- and middle-income countries, estimated that, over the past year, 15.7 percent of people aged 60 years and older were subjected to some form of abuse.

The study also found rates of abuse may be higher for older people living in institutions. A survey of nursing home staff in the United States found 36 percent had witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly patient in the previous year, 10 percent admitted to committing at least one act of physical abuse towards an elderly patient and 40 percent admitted to psychologically abusing patients.

Fighting elder financial exploitation

For Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Tennessee Department of Health and Commerce also shared consumer protection tips to help older adults avoid falling victim to identity theft and financial abuse. TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Securities Frank Borger-Gilligan says elders are often targets for financial fraud and identity theft due in part to the amount of wealth they have accumulated throughout their careers, their tendency to be trusting, and their increasing isolation.

“Many in our older population are vulnerable due to social isolation and distance from family, caregivers, and other support networks,” Borger-Gilligan said. “As Tennesseans, we can all play a part in helping protect this population by keeping a watchful eye for signs of elder financial exploitation and promptly reporting possible abuse to appropriate officials.”

TDCI offers the following guidelines to help older adults and their loved ones recognize and avoid potential financial exploitation and fraud:

Senior investor tips:

  • When a stranger asks for money, proceed with caution. Swindlers will exploit your good manners.
  • Before you invest, make sure your investment adviser is licensed. Extensive background information is available by contacting TDCI’s Securities Division.
  • Beware of salespeople who prey upon your fears. Fear can blind your good judgment. Only invest when you have all the facts and feel comfortable.
  • Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from reporting fraud or abuse. Every day that you delay reporting fraud or abuse is one more day that the con artist is spending your money and finding new victims.

Identity theft prevention tips

    • Never buy from a stranger who calls or visits unannounced.
    • Shred all paperwork containing identifying information, healthcare information, banking information, or passwords.
    • Monitor bank and credit card statements.
    • Monitor your credit report.
    • Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen.

Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security number, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call.

Those wanting to report securities or insurance fraud can contact the Tennessee Securities Division – Financial Services Investigations Unit online or call (615) 741-5900. Other types of elder abuse should report to the Tennessee Department of Human Resources Adult Protective Services Unit.

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